I met Townes Van Zandt at Rockefeller’s night club in Houston after a show he did trading songs with Guy Clark. I had seen him twice before that, but had not met him. I was backstage leaning up against the wall smoking a Marlboro red and he came up and bummed a cigarette off me. When I reached into my pocket to grab my Zippo to light his cigarette, he saw some guitar picks in my hand and said “what’s your name?” I said “Jesse”. He said “I see those picks man, you look like a guitar picker”. Then I lit his cigarette & as he blew out his first smoke he said “I’m Townes…nice to meet you” then walked out the backstage door, got into the backseat of a old brown four-door Mercury and drove off into the night.

When I was a kid, songwriters in Texas were considered shaman, or prophets or mystic poets. They weren’t people who wrote show business ditty’s for money. (and it’s almost a miracle when commerce shakes the hand one of these poets) Townes was the embodiment of that type of writer. Imagine the liberating feeling of not being motivated by money in the year 2020. Luckily, there’s still a tiny handful of writers carrying on this legacy who are witty, broken, painfully honest & clairvoyant enough to truly own what Townes was about. But don’t expect them to look or sound anything like TVZ…that’s impossible. Besides, comparison is the thief of joy, right? I think Oscar Wilde said that, right?

onward, JD